Being mindful has been all the rage in the last couple of years, but what does it mean? Do a quick google search on the term “mindfulness” and you will receive the following definition:
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Now that sounds simple and like something we can get behind. If you have tried to live a more mindful life you may find it is not quite so simple. Here are a couple of our mindfulness habits that make being mindful more of habit as opposed to a trudge.
We are not the first to suggest a gratitude journal and we won’t be the last. This is such a simple task that allows time to look back on our day and realize all that we have. Every night before bed take 5 minutes to write three to five to ten things that you are grateful for. It can be anything from a moment remembered to the roof over your head, to the sun in the sky and the oxygen that you breathe. Some days will be easier than others. Some days you will have 15 things to talk about in detail and could take an hour. Other days you scrape by with 3 and it takes minutes. However long it takes it is a moment of mindfulness. A moment to take stock of the present. You can choose to have a journal designated to this practice or make a note in your phone. It is your practice, go about it in a way that is best for you.
You may think you are a champion when it comes to multitasking, but the truth is, nobody is. When you try to cook dinner, pack lunches, call your mom, scroll through social media, and clean the kitchen at the same time something gets missed. Dinner gets burned, a plate gets dropped, an entire conversation unheard. A lot was done, but nothing was done well. In moments when we have too many tasks happening at once we lose the chance to be mindful, to be present. If we take 15 minutes for that phone call, we don’t have to continue to ask them to repeat themselves and we allow the opportunity to have a deeper conversation. If we focus on only making dinner, we speed up the process and it becomes more than a chore, it becomes a moment to create. We don’t allow our brains a break when we focus on too many things at one time. We begin to feel rushed and maybe a little bit anxious. Limit the time that you multitask, and you may be surprised how much you really get done and done well.
Smell the Damn Roses
We don’t often make forceful suggestions, but this is one that we have to. Take a break! We are all the masters of filling our schedules and doing it all, but it is not a requirement in life. Part of creating a mindfulness practice is stopping, taking a breath, and continuing when you are ready. It is not possible to be in the present moment and worrying about Christmas in the middle of June. It may seem silly, but we all fall prey to these worries. We are allowed to say no to things that don’t serve us. Invited to the neighborhood BBQ but would rather take a bubble bath? Send the kids and partner with a plate of cookies and fill that tub girlfriend. We don’t have to be “on” all the time. Part of taking a break is to find the tasks that you can delegate, stop micromanaging, say no when you want to say no, ask for help when you need it, and smell the damn roses.
The more that we continue to follow these suggestions, the easier it will be to be mindful. The habit will form and before you know it mindfulness is your right-hand man. When you reach this level, stress is no longer your best friend, your relationships are deeper and more fulfilling, you are listening to your personal needs, and joy is radiating from your pores. You are sunshine baby, get rid of the clouds and let everybody else see.